Reviews The Brokedowns Species Bender

The Brokedowns

Species Bender

Three long years after New Brains for Everyone rallied cynical drunks everywhere, the Brokedowns have returned with another full-length, this time for Chicago’s Red Scare Industries. From a stomping wooly mammoth adorning the cover to the shout-a-long climactic ending, Species Bender is a record that both celebrates and lampoons a civilization that bears more in common with its caveman founders than one would like to admit.

The album kicks off with a doomy bassline that segues into a fast pop-punk “Wizard Symptoms.” It sets an aggressive tone while mixing power chords with a surprising groove that is echoed in songs like “Celebrity Death Panel,” “Skvll Skewl,” and “I’m a Ritual.” The vocal tradeoffs between Jon Balun and Kris Megyery energize the record and give a varied sound to an album that pounds through thirteen songs in under half-an-hour without letting up the pace. All of the songs on the record are concise, with the 3:51 “Debt Sounds” sounding like an epic despite its pedestrian length.

While there’s a definite Midwest pop punk influence, the band is a little rougher-around-the-edges than Dillinger Four, less melodic than the Copyrights, and less singalong that Dear Landlord. They choose a more abrasive approach, led by shouted vocals and varied songwriting that often experiments with structure. Each song on Species Bender has a different feel, whether hitting big grooves like the “Pump It Up” hook in “You Got Miller’d” or the surf-tinged guitars in the build-up energy of “Apocalypse Seaside Heights.” The unifying elements come through catchy, shouted choruses and big chords. On a number of songs, the entire band sings in unison—not gang vocal chanting, but harmonies done so well I suspect one of the members is a closet musical theater fan.

8.5 / 10Loren
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Red Scare

2010

8.5 / 10

8.5 / 10

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